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Bondi says court ruling puts foreclosure fraud investigations in jeopardy

Bondi says court ruling puts foreclosure fraud investigations in jeopardy


As if she didn’t know this…hmm

Miami Herald-

An appeals court has denied Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s request to allow the state Supreme Court to review a ruling she says limits her ability to fight foreclosure fraud. Because of this decision, seven pending cases are now threatened, Bondi said Thursday.

In December, the state’s 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that Bondi does not have the authority to investigate a law firm for alleged fraud under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act because attorneys’ work on behalf of lenders did not constitute trade or commerce. She asked the court to certify that its decision in the  Law Offices of David Stern, P.A. v. State of Florida case passes upon a question of great public importance so that she could appeal to the Supreme Court.

[MIAMI HERALD]

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RePost- MUST READ RELEASE: From Andrew Bennett Spark, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa Economic Crimes

RePost- MUST READ RELEASE: From Andrew Bennett Spark, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa Economic Crimes


RELEASE:

From Andrew Bennett Spark, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa Economic Crimes

August 8, 2011
Cell: 941.321.5927

I. Introduction
By way of introduction, I have served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Economic Crimes Division of the Florida Attorney General’s Office since March of 2004, first in Orlando, and the last 6 ½ years in Tampa. I have been reading articles concerning the controversies swirling around the Attorney General’s Office with respect to the forcedresignations of June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards (from whom I took over day-to-day handling of the ProVest investigation), and the employment of Joe Jacquot with Lender Processing Services, one of the companies at the heart of the foreclosure robo-signing issues. While I have a significantly different philosophy concerning these cases than Clarkson, Edwards, and most other homeowner advocates, the people of the State of Florida are entitled to fair and honest government, independent of personal connections and powerful interests, and I have decided to speak out.

As an important caveat, please note that the below contains various factual statements, and asks questions. If I ask a question, it is because I truly do not know the answer, not because I am implying any particular answer to the question.

II. Former Director of Economic Crimes Mary Leontakianakos now works for foreclosure law firm Marshall Watson
Joe Jacquot is not the only high-ranking recent member of the Attorney General’s Office to now be working with a company which has been the subject of one of our foreclosure investigations. Mary Leontakianakos, who was Director of Economic Crimes until approximately January 3 of this year has, according to The Florida Bar, taken a job at foreclosure firm Marshall Watson.
http://www.floridabar.org/names.nsf/0/C1D818F4CF8FA1EE85256A8400081E2D?Open

Document Leontakianakos was centrally involved in the foreclosure investigations while leading our Division, including the investigation of Marshall Watson:
http://www.abc-7.com/Global/story.asp?S=12968488

It appears that Watson and/or Leontakianakos have been secreting her employment from the public. By using a personal email address as her contact email address rather than the Marshall Watson email address suffix MarshallWatson.com, Leontakianakos has been able to avoid search functions which would reveal her affiliation. It is through the use of email suffixes that one may search the Florida Bar’s database for former employees of the foreclosure firms under investigation. In addition, Watson has taken down the portion of his website showing the attorneys in the firm; it appears to be the only portion of his website that is inaccessible from elsewhere on the firm’s website (interestingly enough, Watson’s own attorney profile on that portion of the website is easily found directly from a Google search, and so does Caryn Graham’s, but there’s none for Leontakianakos)..

As has been widely reported, the Attorney General’s Office entered into a settlement with Marshall Watson in March of this year. A copy of the settlement agreement with Marshall Watson is found here:

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/SKNS-8FAHED/$file/WatsonAVC.pdf

Note that Paragraph 4.1 of the agreement requires Marshall Watson to name a liaison to the Attorney General’s Office. Is Mary Leontakianakos that liaison? I do not know. However, Leontakianakos’ address on The Florida Bar website is listed as Fort Lauderdale, and yet a search of the website of the Broward County Clerk of Court reveals that she has not appeared as an attorney in a lawsuit in Broward County – ever.

If Leontakianakos is that liaison, would she have been switching sides during the course of a controversy, Rule 4-1.9 of The Florida Bar states, “[a] lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:

(a) represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent;”

Of course, the Economic Crimes Division acts in a parens patriae role as a representative of the people of the State of Florida. Consent of the people of the state cannot meaningfully be given in such a situation – and judging by the reaction of so many of people in the state the past few weeks since the Clarkson/Edwards/Jacquot story broke, it is safe to say such consent by the people would not be given even if it meaningfully could be given.

The Case Report for the investigation indicates that attorney Caryn Graham is the “point person” to contact at Watson for concerns about the AVC. According to The Florida Bar website, Graham is still with the Watson firm. Watson recently hired former Broward Chief Judge Tobin in a supervisory capacity. Indeed, the Miami Herald reported that Tobin said he would not spend much time in the courtroom.
http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/18/2222892/browards-chief-judge-resigns.html

If Leontakianakos is not actually the liaison, despite the entry about Graham in the Case Report, this begs a few questions, one of which is what, if anything, Leontakianakos is doing there?

The other question that arises is whether Leontakianakos’ hiring by Watson is connected to the settlement. The settlement agreement does not specify as such; however, I have been told by someone in my office that in another case some years back, another highranking individual with Economic Crimes received a job with a subsequent employer out of settlement proceeds from a case – and the connection between the settlement and the job was not disclosed.

Perhaps tellingly, the Attorney Geneal’s press release concerning the Watson settlement states, “The Marshall Watson firm fully cooperated with theinvestigation since its inception.”
http://myfloridalegal.com/__852562220065EE67.nsf/0/478149A91AA0E2528525785E0
06C1EED?Open&Highlight=0,marshall,watson

During her tenure as Director of Economic Crimes, Leontakianakos encouraged side agreements that werecontemporaneous with but not memorialized in the formal settlement documents (“AVC”s). Perhaps as some sort of Freudian-like slip reflective of what may be in effect a golden parachute, on the Bar website Leontakianakos still describes her practice in the “Occupation” field as “Government attorney.” The Marshall Watson settlement contains an unusual provision, paragraph 6.1, requiring the Attorney General to close the investigation upon the execution by all parties. It is typical for our office to close investigations following execution, and parties do typically want the public to know that the investigation is closed; what it is unusual, however, at least in my experience, is for the settlement agreement to explicitly state as such memorializing the closing as a priority. Why the extra concern? (Interestingly enough, despite that provision, I should note that the investigation is now open – I don’t know whether it remained opened or was reopened).

[…]

THIS IS MINDBLOWING…continue below!!

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Abigail Field: Meet FL AG Pam Bondi, Foreclosure Fraudsters’ BFF

Abigail Field: Meet FL AG Pam Bondi, Foreclosure Fraudsters’ BFF


I’d like to add this tid bit: An attorney for Lender Processing, Martin Fiorentino, who lobbied on behalf of the company, is actively involved in both state and national politics. Fiorentino is a well-known political fundraising bundler, and has raised at least $102,9000 for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. The Fiorentino Group has been paid at least $180,000 by Lender Processing Services since 2009.

Guess which Presidential candidate Bondi just endorsed?

Abigail C. Field-

Our national foreclosure crisis has epicenters; Florida is one. Florida’s Multiple Listing Service currently lists 15,755 foreclosure properties in Miami alone (Jan 8, 2012). Prices have fallen so far in some areas homes are selling for less than “a used Toyota.”

Foreclosure statistics, like all numbers, fail to convey the human misery involved. If “irresponsible borrowers” caused Florida’s crisis, well, no one would look to the Attorney General for action. What does law enforcement have to do with irresponsible borrowers? But that’s not what happened–banker fraud and gambling wrecked the housing market. And now the banks are resorting to document fraud to process the millions of foreclosures their earlier bad acts set in motion.

[REALITY CHECK]

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Pam Bondi cleared of ‘political’ firing charges

Pam Bondi cleared of ‘political’ firing charges


“I will only have the very best, most skilled people on the job; those who embody the highest standards of ethics, responsibility, professionalism, and performance,” Bondi wrote. “These two staff attorneys clearly and repeatedly failed to measure up to these standards.”

With all the evidence, where is Florida’s lawsuit against LPS? Nevada had to take the bull by the horns since you couldn’t. Speaking of “ethics, responsibility, professionalism, and performance” … NEXT!

Sun Sentinel-

An independent report released Friday cleared Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office of any wrongdoing in the May firings of two lawyers in her South Florida office who were nationally recognized for exposing foreclosure fraud and unsavory mortgage lending practices.

The long-awaited report from Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater‘s office said no laws or policies were violated in the dismissal of Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson, who had argued that their firings came down to politics, not performance.

“A review of the circumstances surrounding the termination of Edwards and Clarkson, along with the information gathered during this inquiry, did not warrant initiating a formal investigation into a potential violation of law, rule or policy,” the report says. “During the course of the inquiry there was no specific allegation of wrongdoing made by any person, and no discovery of evidence of wrongdoing on the part of anyone involved in the matter.”

[SUN SENTINEL]

image: i-tube.net

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Attorney General Pam Bondi Asks Fourth District Court of Appeal to Certify Important Foreclosure Investigation Case for Florida Supreme Court Review

Attorney General Pam Bondi Asks Fourth District Court of Appeal to Certify Important Foreclosure Investigation Case for Florida Supreme Court Review


NOTE: Below in her request appears a reference to a link @ #4 Nevada v. LPS, but where is her lawsuit against LPS??

Attorney General Pam Bondi today filed a motion asking the Fourth District Court of Appeal to certify that its recent decision in Law Offices of David Stern, P.A. v. State of Florida passes upon a question of great public importance. In Stern, the Fourth DCA held that the Attorney General’s Office lacked authority under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUPTA”) to subpoena records of the Stern firm as part of an investigation into possible misconduct in the firm’s handling of foreclosure cases.

Applicable court rules require certification from the Fourth DCA before this office may appeal the Stern decision to the Florida Supreme Court. The Attorney General’s motion asks the Fourth DCA to certify that its decision in Stern passes upon the following question of great public importance: whether the creation of invalid assignments of mortgages by a law firm and subsequent use of such documents by the firm in foreclosure litigation on behalf of the purported assignee is an unfair and deceptive trade practice which may be the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General.

.
source:  http://www.myfloridalegal.com

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FL 4DCA Says FL AG lacked authority under FDUTPA to issue the subpoena, Reversed

FL 4DCA Says FL AG lacked authority under FDUTPA to issue the subpoena, Reversed


DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
FOURTH DISTRICT

July Term 2011

LAW OFFICE OF DAVID J. STERN, P.A.,
Appellant,

v.

STATE OF FLORIDA, DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS,
Appellee.

No. 4D10-4708

[December 14, 2011]

 [ipaper docId=75682304 access_key=key-1ddqsno5cz2v49d8a02s height=600 width=600 /]

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The Foreclosure Crisis: As California’s AG Issues Subpoenas, Florida’s AG Quits Worrying

The Foreclosure Crisis: As California’s AG Issues Subpoenas, Florida’s AG Quits Worrying


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 1, 2011

CONTACT: Michelle DeMarco, 850.487.5833

 

 

 

.

The Foreclosure Crisis: As California’s AG Issues Subpoenas, Florida’s AG Quits Worrying

This Week on the Florida Senate Democratic Update

 

Tallahassee — In the ongoing foreclosure crisis, California and Florida have a lot in common when it comes to the high number of people caught in its grip, but that’s about where the similarities end. California’s attorney general has been aggressively pursuing banks and lender service companies, recently issuing another round of subpoenas in her drive to pursue criminal and civil charges on behalf of victims of mortgage fraud and other unscrupulous foreclosure practices.

In Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi took a decidedly different track. Not only did she move to protect financial companies from criminal prosecution, but fired two of the most aggressive attorneys in her agency pursuing mortgage fraud shortly after taking office. News of the ouster prompted a flurry of activity to justify the abrupt dismissals, with the attorney general apparently more concerned with her own well being than that of victimized homeowners. “I can finally go to sleep now and quit worrying about how these women will attempt to destroy me,” Bondi confided in one late-night email.

This week on the Florida Senate Democratic Update, Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) talks about Florida’s approach to the foreclosure fraud crisis, and the firings of June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards.  Three months after Bondi’s request to a fellow Republican Cabinet member for an “outside” investigation of the dismissals, Senator Sobel is still waiting for answers.

Watch this week’s reality check at: http://www.youtube.com/flasenatedems or www.flsenate.gov/offices/minority.

###

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Bondi has wrong priority

Bondi has wrong priority


You should know by now that no one and I mean no one is coming to the borrowers rescue, even after all the fraud, after all the robo-signing… No one has tried to put a stop to this fraud.

A simple halt to investigate and an examination of the documents would easily demonstrate the massive fraud happening to titles to real estate. Each day that goes by, families continue to get evicted.

But NO.

PERIOD.

END OF STORY.

Palm Beach Post-

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s effort to play catch-up and clear her name following the revelation that her office fired two highly praised foreclosure fraud attorneys suggests that she is more concerned with her image than her job.

In July, The Post’s Kim Miller broke the story of the firings, which happened in May. On Tuesday, Ms. Miller reported on emails related to the firings. In one, Ms. Bondi responds to a statement detailing that June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards were fired because of “shoddy legal work” by saying, “I can finally go to sleep now and quit worrying about how these women will attempt to destroy me.”

In another email, Ms. Bondi wrote that she learned about the firings during a “two-minute phone call” and that she “did not even know the details, nor should I have needed to know.”

Therein lies the problem.

[PALM BEACH POST]

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Internal FL AG’s Office Emails Show “Secret” Discussions About LPS & DOCX

Internal FL AG’s Office Emails Show “Secret” Discussions About LPS & DOCX


A few email discussions of the FL AG’s office that show what went on behind closed doors. Go thru them and thanks to Foreclosure Hamlet for these gems.

Please click on the links below.

 

[M-Hamilton-to-LPS]

[V-Butler-to-LPS]

[B-Julian-to-LPS-1]

[B-Julian-to-LPS-2]

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Florida AG Pam Bondi Pressured By Targets Of Investigations To Soften Approach, Critics Say

Florida AG Pam Bondi Pressured By Targets Of Investigations To Soften Approach, Critics Say


ALL-in-ONE, Excellent report by HuffPo’s William Alden on the facts of what went down, when those who work for the people get fired, pushed out for getting a bit too close to exposing the AG’s office.

Is she waiting for the statue of limitations to run it’s course? When there is much more left to expose.

HuffPO-

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Last December, when she was still investigating foreclosure fraud as a top lawyer in the Florida attorney general’s office, June Clarkson gave a PowerPoint presentation to a legal association.

Her presentation amounted to an indictment of Lender Processing Services, or LPS, a company near the center of ongoing state investigations into claims that foreclosures have been rushed en masse through the legal machinery, without proper documentation. She flashed images of paperwork on a screen under the heading “forgeries,” asserting that LPS’ former subsidiary, Docx, had produced phony documents to justify unlawful foreclosures.

The legal association later sent Clarkson a thank-you note, calling her tutorial “invaluable.” Word of her presentation reached New York, where a state Supreme Court judge cited it in a harshly-worded ruling that a bank lacked the right to foreclose on a Brooklyn home.

But the Jacksonville-based LPS was furious …

[HUFFINGTON POST]

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After 16 years with “Foreclosure King” employee laid off via e-mail, no vacation pay

After 16 years with “Foreclosure King” employee laid off via e-mail, no vacation pay


REWIND: Why is she complaining, after all didn’t she get her expenses paid and get a new BMW SUV fully paid by Law Offices of David J. Stern?

Excerpt from Depo of Kelly Scott-

8 Q. And what was said about Cheryl’s bills being paid for
9 the Law Offices of David Stern?

10 A. That he’s always done it. David Stern has always
11 paid for Cheryl’s expenses.
12 Q. Personal expenses?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Do you know if he — Well was there rumor — Was
15 there talk, rather, that he paid — that he bought her car?

16 A. No, that’s confirmed. He did buy her a car. I
17 acknowledge that.

18 Q. He did buy her a car?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. What kind of car did he buy her?
21 A. It was a BMW SUV.

<SNIP>

Q. Anything that –
4 A. Is it like personal or business or –
5 Q. Personal? Business? Anything at all?
6 A. Personal? The only thing that I was aware of that
7 took place there were the perks that certain employees received
8 from David Stern. If they were either dating him or they were
9 good friends with him, that they would basically do certain
10 things for him for certain files, in the sense of like David
11 Vargas. He would have certain perks from David Stern, like a
12 house, a car, cell phone paid all by David Stern.
13 And that’s all I know.

14 Q. Okay. So do you know of any other perks besides what
15 you said that Cheryl Salmons got? A car you said, for sure.
16 And her personal bills paid.

17 A. Yes. And cell phone.
18 Q. And probably her mortgage?
19 A. Yes. And vacations and gifts, jewelry.
20 Q. Who else would received gifts and jewelry or cars or
21 homes?
22 A. His girlfriend and David Vargas.
23 Q. Who’s his girlfriend?
24 A. At the time it was Christina Dell’Aguila

Palm Beach Post-

A new deposition of Cheryl Samons, the once second-in-command of the Law Offices of David J. Stern, reveals the chaos that occurred last fall as the Florida attorney general’s investigation was announced, the robo-signing scandal broke and the largest foreclosure law firm in Florida began to implode.

The deposition, linked to on a foreclosure blog by defense attorney Michael Alex Wasylik, was taken in a class-action lawsuit filed by former Stern attorneys who allege they were terminated without the 60 days notice required by federal law and under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

Samons was singled out last fall for her role in signing thousands of foreclosure documents that she had no personal knowledge of and for allegedly having her signature forged by employees who were pushed to speed the processing of foreclosure cases.

[PALM BEACH POST]

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LPS lawyer Joe Jacquot defends himself in AG scandal

LPS lawyer Joe Jacquot defends himself in AG scandal


Common sense, one would’ve recused themselves from even communicating with a high profile corp. that is under investigation from the AG’s office and in some states under criminal. Creates a “conflict” wouldn’t you think? Maybe unless you know for a fact that nothing will happen.

First thing comes to mind is why would one continue to pursue a job, knowing there might be a very good chance the company making headlines nationwide for fraud would even stay in business? Don’t many of the businesses the AG’s investigate get shut down when they find a mountain of fraud? Secondly why are other states and NOT Florida going after a criminal investigation when the company under investigation headquarters are indeed in Florida? Makes no sense.

We don’t see anyone from the New York AG’s office running to work for lets say Bank Of America…or in talks to find employment there.

Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE — A former state government lawyer now working for a firm under investigation by the state in a foreclosure fraud case said Thursday that he had nothing to do with foreclosures while he worked in the attorney general’s office.

Three Democratic lawmakers said this week they want legislation passed to prevent lawyers for government agencies from leaving the state to go work for firms that are under investigation. The proposal is aimed, the lawmakers say, in part at Joe Jacquot, who left the attorney general’s office earlier this year and has come under scrutiny for going to work for a Jacksonville company, Lender Processing Services, that was under investigation by the office, while he was there.

Jacquot said in an interview with The News Service of Florida on Thursday that not only did he not have anything to do with the probe of foreclosure firms started under former Attorney General Bill McCollum, he formally notified McCollum when he began talking to LPS as a possible future employer, and asked to be kept completely out of the loop on any discussions related to the company. Jacquot was one of two deputy attorneys general in McCollum’s office, and was McCollum’s chief of staff.

[ORLANDO SENTINEL]

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Assistant attorney general resigns after memo blasting Florida AG’s office

Assistant attorney general resigns after memo blasting Florida AG’s office


Doesn’t the last paragraph seem way off? Yes, what about those who did leave the AG’s office to go work at firms that were busted for Massive Fraud and currently under investigation today?

Exactly how, when and where did the discussions about employment come about? This is going to get extremely interesting.

Palm Beach Post

Andrew Spark, an assistant state attorney general in the Tampa office of economic crimes, resigned Wednesday, a day after he released a 16-page memo discussing grievances he has with the Florida attorney general’s office.

Spark said his memo, which he emailed to media outlets, was motivated by the forced resignations of former state foreclosure investigators June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said today that Spark was the subject of an ongoing investigation for using the services of a business he was investigating.

[PALM BEACH POST]

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LAST CALL | Before Florida Dems pledge to file Pam Bondi-inspired ‘Investigation Integrity Act’

LAST CALL | Before Florida Dems pledge to file Pam Bondi-inspired ‘Investigation Integrity Act’


Orlando Sentinel-

TALLAHASSEE — Two Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday they planned to file a reform proposal inspired by Attorney General Pam Bondi to place stronger revolving-door prohibitions into state law.

Reps. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, and Ron Saunders, D-Key West, said in a press release that the “Florida Investigation Integrity Act” they’re filing was inspired when “the Attorney General’s special counsel on foreclosure fraud “a special counsel in the Attorney General’s office esigned and then, reportedly, accepted employment with an organization he had been investigating. that has been under investigation for its foreclosure practices. Subsequently, two other attorneys in the office who were investigating the matter foreclosure fraud were terminated from their jobs.” (The updated statement was released late Wednesday afternoon.)

Background on the case, as well as Bondi, here.

[ORLANDO SENTINEL]

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MUST READ RELEASE: From Andrew Bennett Spark, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa Economic Crimes

MUST READ RELEASE: From Andrew Bennett Spark, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa Economic Crimes


RELEASE:

From Andrew Bennett Spark, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa Economic Crimes

August 8, 2011
Cell: 941.321.5927

I. Introduction
By way of introduction, I have served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Economic Crimes Division of the Florida Attorney General’s Office since March of 2004, first in Orlando, and the last 6 ½ years in Tampa. I have been reading articles concerning the controversies swirling around the Attorney General’s Office with respect to the forcedresignations of June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards (from whom I took over day-to-day handling of the ProVest investigation), and the employment of Joe Jacquot with Lender Processing Services, one of the companies at the heart of the foreclosure robo-signing issues. While I have a significantly different philosophy concerning these cases than Clarkson, Edwards, and most other homeowner advocates, the people of the State of Florida are entitled to fair and honest government, independent of personal connections and powerful interests, and I have decided to speak out.

As an important caveat, please note that the below contains various factual statements, and asks questions. If I ask a question, it is because I truly do not know the answer, not because I am implying any particular answer to the question.

II. Former Director of Economic Crimes Mary Leontakianakos now works for foreclosure law firm Marshall Watson
Joe Jacquot is not the only high-ranking recent member of the Attorney General’s Office to now be working with a company which has been the subject of one of our foreclosure investigations. Mary Leontakianakos, who was Director of Economic Crimes until approximately January 3 of this year has, according to The Florida Bar, taken a job at foreclosure firm Marshall Watson.
http://www.floridabar.org/names.nsf/0/C1D818F4CF8FA1EE85256A8400081E2D?Open

Document Leontakianakos was centrally involved in the foreclosure investigations while leading our Division, including the investigation of Marshall Watson:
http://www.abc-7.com/Global/story.asp?S=12968488

It appears that Watson and/or Leontakianakos have been secreting her employment from the public. By using a personal email address as her contact email address rather than the Marshall Watson email address suffix MarshallWatson.com, Leontakianakos has been able to avoid search functions which would reveal her affiliation. It is through the use of email suffixes that one may search the Florida Bar’s database for former employees of the foreclosure firms under investigation. In addition, Watson has taken down the portion of his website showing the attorneys in the firm; it appears to be the only portion of his website that is inaccessible from elsewhere on the firm’s website (interestingly enough, Watson’s own attorney profile on that portion of the website is easily found directly from a Google search, and so does Caryn Graham’s, but there’s none for Leontakianakos)..

As has been widely reported, the Attorney General’s Office entered into a settlement with Marshall Watson in March of this year. A copy of the settlement agreement with Marshall Watson is found here:

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/SKNS-8FAHED/$file/WatsonAVC.pdf

Note that Paragraph 4.1 of the agreement requires Marshall Watson to name a liaison to the Attorney General’s Office. Is Mary Leontakianakos that liaison? I do not know. However, Leontakianakos’ address on The Florida Bar website is listed as Fort Lauderdale, and yet a search of the website of the Broward County Clerk of Court reveals that she has not appeared as an attorney in a lawsuit in Broward County – ever.

If Leontakianakos is that liaison, would she have been switching sides during the course of a controversy, Rule 4-1.9 of The Florida Bar states, “[a] lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:

(a) represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent;”

Of course, the Economic Crimes Division acts in a parens patriae role as a representative of the people of the State of Florida. Consent of the people of the state cannot meaningfully be given in such a situation – and judging by the reaction of so many of people in the state the past few weeks since the Clarkson/Edwards/Jacquot story broke, it is safe to say such consent by the people would not be given even if it meaningfully could be given.

The Case Report for the investigation indicates that attorney Caryn Graham is the “point person” to contact at Watson for concerns about the AVC. According to The Florida Bar website, Graham is still with the Watson firm. Watson recently hired former Broward Chief Judge Tobin in a supervisory capacity. Indeed, the Miami Herald reported that Tobin said he would not spend much time in the courtroom.
http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/18/2222892/browards-chief-judge-resigns.html

If Leontakianakos is not actually the liaison, despite the entry about Graham in the Case Report, this begs a few questions, one of which is what, if anything, Leontakianakos is doing there?

The other question that arises is whether Leontakianakos’ hiring by Watson is connected to the settlement. The  settlement agreement does not specify as such; however, I have been told by someone in my office that in another case some years back, another highranking individual with Economic Crimes received a job with a subsequent employer out of settlement proceeds from a case – and the connection between the settlement and the job was not disclosed.

Perhaps tellingly, the Attorney Geneal’s press release concerning the Watson settlement states, “The Marshall Watson firm fully cooperated with theinvestigation since its inception.”
http://myfloridalegal.com/__852562220065EE67.nsf/0/478149A91AA0E2528525785E0
06C1EED?Open&Highlight=0,marshall,watson

During her tenure as Director of Economic Crimes, Leontakianakos encouraged side agreements that werecontemporaneous with but not memorialized in the formal settlement documents (“AVC”s). Perhaps as some sort of Freudian-like slip reflective of what may be in effect a golden parachute, on the Bar website Leontakianakos still describes her practice in the “Occupation” field as “Government attorney.” The Marshall Watson settlement contains an unusual provision, paragraph 6.1, requiring the Attorney General to close the investigation upon the execution by all parties. It is typical for our office to close investigations following execution, and parties do typically want the public to know that the investigation is closed; what it is unusual, however, at least in my experience, is for the settlement agreement to explicitly state as such memorializing the closing as a priority. Why the extra concern? (Interestingly enough, despite that provision, I should note that the investigation is now open – I don’t know whether it remained opened or was reopened).

[…]

THIS IS MINDBLOWING…continue below!!

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SENATOR ELEANOR SOBEL, REP. DARREN SOTO PROBE DEEPER INTO FIRINGS OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL

SENATOR ELEANOR SOBEL, REP. DARREN SOTO PROBE DEEPER INTO FIRINGS OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: MICHELLE DeMARCO
850.487.5833

AUGUST 4, 2011

SENATOR ELEANOR SOBEL, REP. DARREN SOTO PROBE DEEPER INTO FIRINGS OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL
Seek details under Florida’s public records laws of relationships between Tallahassee/mortgage service company under investigation

TALLAHASSEE – State Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) and Representative Darren Soto (D-Orlando) on Thursday launched a probe of their own into the relationships surrounding the abrupt ouster of two top assistant attorneys general investigating widespread mortgage fraud throughout Florida.

“A number of troubling questions have come to our attention involving past and current employees of the Attorney General’s office and at least one mortgage processing company currently under investigation,” the duo wrote to Attorney General Pam Bondi in a formal public records request. “In particular, we are especially concerned with the sudden departure to Lender Processing Services of your former special counsel, Joe Jacquot, and the subsequent dismissal of two apparently top notch foreclosure fraud attorneys – June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards – from the Department of Legal Affairs.”

The circumstances surrounding Jacquot’s abrupt decision to leave the attorney general’s office sparked the lawmakers’ interest after it was learned that he had been hired in May as a senior vice president for Lender Processing Services, a company which had been under investigation for its role in questionable foreclosures throughout Florida. Jacquot had been named earlier this year as Bondi’s “special counsel.” Within approximately one week after his hiring by the company, assistant attorneys general Clarkson and Edwards were told of their dismissal and that the firings of the investigators “came from the top.” Both Clarkson and Edwards had been at the forefront of uncovering shady practices involving so-called “foreclosure mills” and were leading the probe into Lenders Processing Services.

But Jacquot is not the only connection the company shares with Tallahassee. Yet another Lender Processing Services senior vice president previously worked as general counsel and outside general counsel for the governor’s former health care company, Solantic.

The public records request seeks information specifically related to all communications, including Blackberry transmissions such as PINs and text messages involving top attorneys within the Attorney General’s office and the company, including documents relating to an “introductory meeting” held in March. It also seeks additional details on Provest, a Tampa-based mortgage servicing company also investigated by Edwards and Clarkson.

“Given the powerful ties, the high stakes, and the thousands of Florida homeowners on the line, many of whom I represent, the dismissal of June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, and the ties between Tallahassee and these companies are critical,” said Senator Sobel. “The troubling questions surrounding these firings not only beg closer scrutiny, but deserve substantiated answers.”

“This supplemental information request is a sincere attempt to help determine what happened in regards to these dismissals,” added Rep. Soto. “The public deserves a thorough explanation.”

The move by Senator Sobel and Rep. Soto follows their request this week to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the firings. Last month, Rep. Soto also sought under Florida’s public records laws documentation substantiating claims by Bondi’s office that both Edwards and Clarkson were terminated due to “poor performance.”

A copy of the latest Sobel/Soto public records request is attached.

###

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VIDEO: Assistant AGs fired over foreclosures

VIDEO: Assistant AGs fired over foreclosures


[DBR]

dbrTV reporter Julie Kay interviews June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, who said they were fired for driving the investigations into foreclosure mills and process servers.


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LETTERS | Democratic lawmakers ask feds to investigate Bondi’s firing of foreclosure attorneys

LETTERS | Democratic lawmakers ask feds to investigate Bondi’s firing of foreclosure attorneys


Tampabay-

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando and state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywoold, have asked U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to intervene in the investigation of the forced resignations of two foreclosure attornesy by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

[TAMPABAY.COM]

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Bondi plans outside review of forced resignations

Bondi plans outside review of forced resignations


Tallahassee-

“I have 1,100 employees. I have trusted management in my office and the one common denominator with the people that I have hired, they’re tough former prosecutors,” Bondi said. “The only directive I’ve ever given to any employees of my office is to go after the bad guys with everything you’ve got.”

She said she trusted the judgment of three top staff aides who recommended forcing Clarkson and Edwards out. But Bondi said she was troubled by lack of documentation in personnel files and wanted an outside investigation to clear up any misgivings and make recommendations for avoiding such allegations in the future.

[TALLAHASSEE]

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Taxpayers fund, get smacked by Pam Bondi’s ‘revolving door’

Taxpayers fund, get smacked by Pam Bondi’s ‘revolving door’


OS-

Earlier this year, the Florida Attorney General’s Office was in the midst of a pull-no-punches investigation into foreclosure fraud.

Investigators were exposing rampant abuses. They’d netted a $2 million settlement from one company. And they were gunning for more.

But then in May, two things happened:

First, the “special counsel” to Attorney General Pam Bondi left to take a high-level job with one of the very companies the office was investigating.

One week later, the investigators were forced out of their jobs, told late on a Friday afternoon that they had 90 minutes to decide whether to resign or be fired.

[ORLANDO SENTINEL]

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Lawmaker may push to reinstate two ousted Florida foreclosure investigators

Lawmaker may push to reinstate two ousted Florida foreclosure investigators


Palm Beach Post-

An Orlando lawmaker wants two former state foreclosure investigators reinstated if performance evaluations he has requested reflect high rankings for the duo.

Democratic Rep. Darren Soto sent a public records request Wednesday to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, asking for evaluations and documents related to the forced resignations of Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson.

The two former assistant attorneys general had been the lead investigators on the state’s foreclosure fraud cases, but were abruptly told in May to resign or they would be fired.

[PAM BEACH POST]

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Petition the Inspector General: Investigate Attorney General Bondi’s Firings

Petition the Inspector General: Investigate Attorney General Bondi’s Firings


Progress Florida-

Friends,

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi seems to think her first duty is to protect some of Gov. Scott’s biggest corporate pals – the banks – instead of hard working Floridians. Recently Bondi fired Florida’s two leading attorneys investigating the epidemic of foreclosure fraud ravaging our communities.

The attorneys investigating foreclosure fraud said they were forced out. Join me and sign this petition calling for an immediate investigation: http://www.progressflorida.org/bondi

June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards were tasked by then-Attorney General Bill McCollum last year to investigate allegations of widespread fraud taking place in foreclosures occurring around the state. They did their jobs well…perhaps too well for Pam Bondi.

The investigation by Clarkson and Edwards produced a blockbuster presentation entitled “Unfair, Deceptive and Unconscionable Acts in Foreclosure Cases. ” The presentation demonstrated numerous outrageous examples of blatant fraud and deception by banks and law firms initiating foreclosures known as “foreclosure mills.” Clarkson and Edward’s work was so effective it was used in other states in prosecuting foreclosure fraud . Then in May, despite a recent glowing performance evaluation, both attorneys were suddenly told by a supervisor to immediately step down or be fired.

Sign the petition calling for an investigation of Attorney General Bondi’s actions:

http://www.progressflorida.org/bondi

Thank you for your help.

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